This year’s Selati Cup kicked off on 19 March, with matches being played at venues across Mpumalanga, including the PSL-level Kamhlushwa Stadium where thousands of excited fans are expected to gather for the thrilling final on 4 June.
What started as a humble soccer tournament for 32 teams back in 2005 is now the highlight of the Mpumalanga soccer calendar. Not only does it bring camaraderie, entertainment and joy to the people of Mpumalanga, the tournament also draws national figures such as the Minister of Spor and Recreation, the Mpumalanga Premier and the Nkomazi Mayor. This year is the first time that soccer legend Lucas Radebe will be involved, mentoring and coaching teams and players who make it through to the final stages and helping to nurture up-and-coming local soccer talent.
The tournament also attracts soccer scouts from the nationally-based teams in search of fresh talent, providing a platform for promising young players to make a name for themselves. Would you believe that The Selati Cup was where it all started for the likes of Innocent Mkhabela (Kaizer Chiefs), Mpho Mbebe (Super Sport), Velile Zitha (Golden Arrows), and four NFD Mbombela United players – Bheki Malibo, Ludick Mlhatshwa, Skhatsele Mabuza and Jabulani “Master” Dladla?
This year, the winning team will be awarded The Selati Cup title and trophy, as well as R100 000 in cash and gold medals. Runners-up will receive R60 000 cash, while third and fourth place will receive R35 000 and R25 000 respectively. The top four teams will also receive branded soccer kit and all 128 participating teams will receive cash in a tiered reward system.
To date, there have been no consecutive team wins by any Selati Cup contenders. Mashaba United, the local Nkomazi team which won the Cup in 2016, had their sights very firmly set on another victory – but were knocked in a surprise 3-0 upset against Kamhlushwa Screamer Eleven. Once again this remarkable tournament continues to challenge the contenders and we will see a new team raise the cup at Kamhlushwa Stadium in June.